Snakes & Ladders (and Mud)

I would consider myself as a pretty cool cucumber most of the time. Nothing much fazes me. I deal with change well and I’m quite arty farty, so my imagination is well formed. My imagination is where I think my irrational fears stem from and while an imagination is a wonderful thing, it’s sometimes not the blessing or tool one really wants. 

Easter is approaching which to me signifies our next camping trip. We have been camping with the same family for about eight years now. Obviously along the way there have been ring ins and newbies who join us when they can, but generally it’s the same two base families every Easter. We’ve recently started camping over Christmas too, and this is where my imagination gets the better of me. 

Christmas means summer, summer is hot, when it’s hot up the Murray River, you swim. Seems fair yes? Until it comes to me getting into the water. I love the water, I love to swim, I love to take a spin in the tube and if I had adult skis I’d probably be skiing too, if I could get up! That would be something to see… 

Water is great but I detest the fucking mud. Insert clearing throat cough and the following words – and water I can’t see the bottom in. Yup, I have this completely irrational fear of letting my legs drop any lower than my hip level in water where I can’t see the bottom. You can thank fucking Jaws for that! I float around laid back with feet out in front, or in a breast stroke position. The thought of my feet just dangling and swishing in and around branches, or weeds, slimy reeds or actually touching the filthy clay mud on the bank almost brings me to tears. Mud squishing up, oozing through and in between my toes, engulfing my feet and touching my ankles freaks me the fuck out! I don’t even want to think about the creepy little critters lurking beneath the surface, yabbies, carp, mussels, turtles, fuck knows what else? Probably my sunnies in there somewhere too from when I did a backwards somersault in a pike position off the donut, while trying to get into the water last trip. I looked amazing doing that, one smooth action off the side of the boat, into the donut and into the water. A fucking 10 straight across the judging panel right there! 

Getting OUT of the water is umm, shall I say testing? I’m not even gunna try and describe that, but it involves manuvering my body up alongside the tinny, feet first, trying to find a slimy tree root to use as a skinny platform. Hands holding the edge of the boat I pull myself up and into a standing position, no mud wooohoooo, as ladylike as ever, leg up straddling the edge of the boat and in I go. Now, if I’m lucky, my feet don’t slip off the skinny fucking platform and I don’t freak the fuck out when my feet lodge toes deep into the side of the squelchy bank. All this happens in about a foot of water. Can you see it? Me sliding across the top of the water trying my hardest not to touch ANY mud. Meh, why do I bother? Easter fucking rocks, no swimming!


While up the river camping, you have to watch out for the creepy crawlies. Spiders, bugs, March flies, mozzies and snakes. If I’m honest we’ve never seen a snake on land while camping, and we camp a lot. We pretty well only see them in the water but it’s not the snakes camping that scare me. It’s the ones at home on the TV. They intrigue me, they fascinate me, I love to watch them but fuck they make me squeal. Footage of a rattle snake shaking it’s noisy tail, rearing back ready to strike makes the hairs on my neck stand up. I know it’s coming, I’m prepared and then BANG that fucking thing strikes right at the camera which is really my face yeah? Sharp fat fangs dripping with venom, ugh! I’m pinned to the back of the couch.

I’ve seen my fair share of snakes in the flesh. Browns, Tigers, Tipans, Death Adders, Pythons. Actually we owned a python while I was a baby on the farm in Hopetoun. By owned I mean it was the resident rodent eating Python. The mouse plagues back in the late seventies proved troublesome for those on the land, and in town. I was told stories that my cot legs sat inside four half drums filled with kerosine, to stop the mice from getting at me in the cot. Hence why the Python was a resident. I don’t mind mice lol.

Mum once stepped down onto a tiger snake on the back step of our house, she yelled screaming for someone to bring a shovel, and I will never ever forget the day that Dad thought it would be cool to come home from work in the old HQ sedan with two baby snakes flicking around under the windscreen wipers. They were writhing all over the window. Yup, coolest dad in the neighbourhood! What the fuck?

Snakes have featured strongly throughout my life. The day I found out I was pregnant with our eldest I came across a brown snake in the back yard while living on a cotton farm in QLD. Now I’m not a supporter of killing snakes but be fucked if we were gunna move it to the paddock next door! Ben arrived to ‘relocate’ the snake and while he was holding it by the tail I let him know he was going to be a father. How romantic! Nawww. A quick kiss, he’s happy, I’m happy and back to the tractor he went. My dislike of snakes doesn’t stop at real ones…you know those jointed wooden toy snakes that slither and writhe like real ones? Yup I burned one of those, perhaps two including the ones in the toy box that belonged to my nephews, and all the plastic ones the kids owned for a whole five minutes.


eastern brown sm 

So you’re probably wondering where the ladders come into the story… I have a fear of heights. You won’t see me any higher than about the third rung of a ladder. Being double bounced on our Olympic sized trampoline sometimes freaked me out enough to make me cry. As an adult though I will persevere to get what ever it is that needs doing, done. But I won’t be happy, and I’ll bitch and winge, protest a lot and swear more than I protest. Bungee jumping, Sky diving and high rides don’t interest me much. I forced myself to jump off a number of diving/jumping towers into water when I was a kid… Yup you guessed it, into water I couldn’t see the bottom in and as soon as I hit the water I’d be swimming to fucking save myself from Jaws or a giant crocodile, beast thing that was chasing me to the surface. Not to mention the dead bodies and souls of all the miners whose lives were lost over a hundred years ago, who lurk beneath the tower in Creswick’s local swimming hole that was once a mine shaft. Fark, I’m having a coronary thinking about it now…   

creswick tower 

I once fell from a hay stack on the Rapkin’s Family Farm straight onto my guts, winding myself to the point of almost passing out. I sounded like one of those plastic barking/squeaking chickens that you tease your dog with. Then there’s my fear of hanging, I don’t like to be lifted by anyone or anything, including myself. Perhaps I was dropped as a kid? That would explain a fucking huge amount of things.

So there you have it. Muddydarkwaterhighsepantobia in a nut shell! Just a couple of issues. I hear you river… I’m coming! 

Make sure you turn the teapot twice clockwise and once anticlockwise! 


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